Sunday, October 10, 2010


So... I usually only like to write when I have a story to tell. It does not have to be a specific story per se, but I want to at least illuminate/ articulate some event, feeling, or emotion.

Today, I have no stories to share.

However, I have been living my life for the past 3.5 months and now that I sit down to think about it, a disproportionate amount of change/ growth has taken place. In this rare moment of thought, I also re-realized that while I like to write fanciful tales of wild adventures, my favorite authors just tell the story of their lives. Not autobiographically, but in such a fashion that ones everyday life is recounted so cleverly that it becomes a thing worth reading. Now, with that said, temper your expectations. Haha, I am already struggling to order my thoughts the way I want to and I haven't even started my "story;" so bear with me, and enjoy!

Let me take you back to the middle of June, just a few days before my last post. I was applying to my 99th job since arriving on Australia's fair shores. Well, to be entirely honest, it was well over 125, but the running tally I had solely relied on the number of covering letters I had saved and subsequently sent out and some jobs I applied for just wanted a resume. But I digress. The job I applied for sounded like it was right up my alley; it was with a not- for- profit non- government agency called Outcare and I would be mentoring young men who had recently left the loving supervision of the Western Australian Department of Corrections. I sent my resume and covering letter and went about my other business (two part time jobs with a third due to start once my police clearance had been returned and looking for more jobs). The manager of the position surprised me with a call a couple of days later and asked me if I might be interested in a different position with Outcare. The role he proposed worked with prisoners to help them develop their careers; to put plans in place to help them achieve whatever career goals they might have. I thought this sounded even more up my alley and coupled with the fact that the person who would potentially be hiring me was suggesting that I apply for this position, I had no choice but to apply. On the morning of the 24th of June, I showed up to Outcare, interviewed with three of their managers for different departments and left feeling pretty confident. Later that afternoon, I would be overjoyed as the Career Development manager called me back and asked, "How would you like to start working for Outcare on Monday morning?" Again, I was overjoyed! After nearly two years of trying to find stable full- time work, I finally had, and in a field/ position that I could actually sink my teeth into!

I began working with the career development team and it was going very well. I learned that I would be working in three different prisons, one of which (Wooroloo, a minimum security prison farm... that's right, a prison farm. Prisoners there could learn all about caring for animals and land as well as the slaughtering and production of said goods for their own prison, but also others around the state. Prisoners here made textile goods like clothes and shoes for themselves as well as other prisoners around the state; I don't want to get too much into what it was like being in the prison, at least not here, I could and might write a book about that one day.) I would become very familiar with during my training as I went there twice a week for a month to observe a training course being delivered by a colleague of mine.

About a month had passed in my role and I was starting to settle in very nicely and in fact, start going out to the prisons to meet clients on my own and I had a bit of a epiphany. I was not actually sure that I wanted to be a career development officer. It certainly would have been a fulfilling role and I was more than grateful to have the opportunity to take on the position, but in observing some of the other arms of Outcare, I was really drawn to the Re- Entry team. This team worked with men and women who were still in prison and sought to help them transition smoothly back into society. I saw Re- Entry as a holistic social work ing agency of sorts that specifically worked with the prison population and I heard rumors that there might be an opening on the Re- Entry team and that it was very easy to switch departments within Outcare. So, I put the process in motion and within a few days was able to join the Re- Entry team! Two different roles within the same organization in one month and figured that I had seen my fair share of adjustment so I would be able to settle down, finally.


#1: This is a lesson out there for all of you kiddies, don't ever get too comfortable, or rather, don't think that you have, "made it." That's exactly when God throws you the curveball, or maybe it's a cut fastball, I don't know, but no matter what pitch God is delivering, it makes you take a step back and rely on Him all over again and that takes us to the next chapter in my professional life.

And right behind it...

#2: I am learning things left and right... don't let your professional life consume your whole life. I guess I had never been in a position where my non- work life could be taken over by my work life because I had never actually worked 40 hours a week doing something remotely significant. So, in my first test in this arena... I failed. I wasn't taking work home or even really thinking about it once I left work, but I let it drain me; I didn't have the energy (or at least, didn't make the energy) to really do much of anything outside of work.

Ok, just to recap. Two part time jobs as of June 22nd, then one full time job (plus Drug A.R.M. which I committed to for at least the remainder of the calendar year) a week later, then switching the job to one that fit better with my aspirations, and now we are at the beginning of August.

I have joined the Re- Entry team, hooray! Now the work starts. My title is now, "Re- Entry Case Manager;" there are about 15 of us at Outcare and we are assigned to teams which are in turn assigned to prisons. I work at Acacia Prison, actually, not too far away from Wooroloo Prison Farm (both are out int he hills of Perth, about 45minutes to an hours drive). I drive out to prison with at least one member of my team once a week to meet up with as many of my clients as I can/ needs to in that day. We usually arrive at Acacia around 8:30 or 9am and call up our clients until 11:30 when the prison effectively shuts down for lunch. The prisoners go back to their cells and we go to the cafeteria. Then we work again from 1pm til 3 or 3:30pm then drive on back to Perth. The other days of the week we meet up with clients who have already been released, do research/ paperwork for the issues that our clients would like addressed, and rotate working in Outcare's Emergency Relief (ER) service. What is Outcare's Emergency Relief service you might ask? Essentially, the Western Australian government has given us and several other agencies around the city and state funds to address immediate needs of Perth's low income population. So on Monday (my ER day) the receptionist will call me or a colleague up whenever a person shows up for ER; I'll interview him/ her to assess the situation and act appropriately to provide whatever assistance we can. We have $20 grocery vouchers that can be used at a local supermarket chain, 24 hour transit passes for the Perth transit system, as well as $5 phone cards. In addition to those three, we also can assist people with rental/ utility expenses and we also have a working relationship with a few Christian charities/ aid organizations that can provide fresh food and clothing.

All in all, I am thrilled with my job! There are certainly depressing days when I counsel men who are older than my father that it might not be the best idea to spend all of their government benefits on alcohol and cigarettes before thinking about buying food, or listen to girls younger than my sister tell me about how they are living on the street and have a baby that they need to feed; but there are also such uplifting days when I feel as if I have actually made an impact in a person's life, that God has put me in a specific situation to say some specific things to certain people and there's nothing better than that.

That about covers the professional side of things; I have been doing things from 5pm-8am and on the weekends... One of the best has been our renewed passion for the Donnelly River Holiday Village (DRHV). I wrote a post about it a while back; it is a set of rustic cabins about three hours south of Perth that we were turned on to by Cate's sister's boyfriend (thanks Shane!). The selling point for a lot of people is the semi- domesticated kangaroos and emus that roam freely through the property being fed left right and center; however, the appeal for us is the wood burning fireplace. Not only do I appreciate the aroma and warmth of the beautiful WA wood being consumed in a crackling fire, but I also have fallen in love with the physical chopping of the wood. Not sure if I have already waxed poetic on this subject, but I don't care; I will continue to gush. We even bought our own axe so we can chop the wood more efficiently than if we were to use the supplied metal wedge welded to a lead pipe. Donnelly River is also home to a great cidery and close to one of the finest wine regions in all of Australia, Margaret River (I moonlight for tourism Australia, so if you are thinking about taking a trip down under, let me know :) We really love DRHV in the winter because the nights are legitimately cold enough to need the heat of the fire, but I have a feeling that we might go during the summer as well!

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Sydney for a few days. We just decided to make a long weekend for ourselves and jet over to the east coast and it was AWESOME. We both loved Melbourne because the whole city was essentially like SoHo/ Chelsea/ East Village in NYC, Sydney on the other hand was like 34th Ave smoothly blended with the new money of Tribeca's night spots. Melbourne was filled to the brim with boutique cafes, shops, neighborhoods even and it was great; but Sydney, oh Sydney, was filled with restaurants. Eating might be our second greatest joint passion as a couple, I would like to put sport at number two, but let's be honest. We (thankfully) did some research on places we might like to eat while we were in Sydney and the one that we almost missed was head and shoulders the best! I promise, I'm not being paid by these people, but there is a business group called Merrivale and they know how to design a restaurant/ bar. There are two main streets in the city of Sydney proper, Pitt Street and George Street. Merrivale bought up about a 1/4 of a city block on George and literally developed six levels of gastronomic and imbibing delights! Each one of the restaurants or bars has its own unique theme and design scheme. We went to one called Sailors Thai, which was, surprise! a Thai restaurant, decorated in a, "chic East meets West space with dark timber furnishings." Could not have said it better myself. The food was wonderful and even though there was a bit of a nightclubbish feel, we could converse freely and easily over the table. We were very pleased with the experience and felt very trendy for the experience and we thought that was it. But, on our last day in Sydney, we were able to sneak in a trip back to the Merrivale complex to go to their steakhouse, Mad Cow. It was honestly, the 2nd best steak I have ever been served in a restaurant (in case you didn't know, Cate and I love steak and we always try to find/ try new steakhouses). Just check out their website, but it doesn't even do the places justice ( Outside of Merrivale, we just walked around pretty much every square inch of the city, which was actually really nice and something we have always missed since leaving NYC; there just aren't too many places that you can walk to in Perth or Saint Louis, but not so in NYC or Sydney. We of course went to the harbor and saw the famous opera house, but we went on a Sunday night so it was actually relatively free of tourists (outside of ourselves) and we had our pick of five or six restaurants that all look tantalizing, but most importantly, provided stunning views of the harbor, bridge, and opera house.

Our traveling days are pretty well over for the next few months, but that's mostly because we are saving up vacation days and $ for an extravaganza trip back to the United States of America! We are hoping to spend half of the trip in Saint Louis and the other half in NYC/ road tripping around the southern bits of the US. All of these plans are subject to change, but we are hoping to spend four weeks in America either around the 4th of July or in September/ October of 2011; but we'll definitely let you know when we decide what we are doing!

I have exhausted all of my mini stories and my brain with all this writing, but hopefully it won't be three months before I write again so I won't have to say so much :)